Why GMOs Are (Not) Feeding the World

Posted on Jun 22 2011 - 2:31am by Mike Lieberman

The main reason that so many people get behind chemical gardening and agriculture is the belief that it’s the only way to feed the world. This load of crap has been force fed to us by the same companies that are producing the food. What else do you expect them to say?

They have all of us believing that with the rising population and our limited resources that organic methods of growing food couldn’t possibly feed the world. I have news for you – GMOs aren’t doing such a great job of it either. Here is why:

Top GMOd crops

Three of the top GMOd crops are corn, soy and wheat. Combined something like 80-90% of all of those crops planted are of the genetically modified variety. Even if it’s on the lower end it’s still somewhere around 70%. Source: USDA

This sounds great. We can grow these crop because they are resistant to pests, drought and everything else. So what’s wrong with that?

They don’t get fed to humans

Instead these crops wind up being unnaturally fed to livestock to help fatten them up quicker. Close to 50% of the soy and 60% of the corn grown goes to feeding livestock. Source: Sustainable Table

All right! This is even better because My Plate says that we need protein. Protein comes from meat, and we are getting meat that’s fattening up quick for us to eat.

Not so much. Since these animals are being fed an unnatural diet and being kept in factory farms, this is what contributes to outbreaks such as e.coli and other food scares.

I don’t know the percentage, but whatever doesn’t get fed to livestock is made into food like products using high fructose corn syrup and all those other mystery ingredients.

In actuality, it’s not even being given directly to people to consume.

Wheat is the new corn

The price of wheat has dropped below that of corn. Now livestock is being fed wheat because it’s cheaper. Source: Bloomberg

This is being done for price reasons, not for health.

Ethanol for cars

Behind the scenes, Monsanto, who is one of the main suppliers of GMO corn, has been pushing hard for using ethanol to power cars. This would result in the corn being grown to be used for a gas alternative instead of food.

Conclusion

Those are just a few of the reasons why GMOs are not feeding the world. The crops aren’t even being given to humans to consume. Let’s not even get started on the potential health and environmental impacts of them.

This is another reason to start growing your own food, at least some of it. You can supply yourself and stop supporting this hamster wheel that we are on of continually giving the same companies our money over and over again. Start putting that money towards your farmers markets, CSA or local co-ops. We have the power to shift and change the power. Let’s utilize that.

What are your thoughts on GMOs feeding the world?

  • laura

    GMOs = Zombie food.

    Not food that zombies eat, mind you, but GMO foods are zombies themselves.

    Food that requires much more pesticides to keep healthy.

    Food that produces it’s own genetically-modified toxins (i.e. The New Leaf potato).

    Food has been modified so much in the past 100 years, it’s a miracle that humans are even still around.

    As strange as it seems, the technology and inventions that propelled us out of the brought us to this point will also be our undoing.

    And it isn’t just GMOs.  Selective breeding has brought us the Holstein cow, capable of giving gallons of milk a day.  Monsanto admits that up to 17% of the Holstein population in the U.S. is on bST.  Wonder why girls are having their first menstrual cycles at the age of 9?  Developing breasts at the age of 8?  Could it be the hormones are transferred through the milk supply?  Of course the correlation is there, but do people care, or in my case, do they have the $$$ required to buy organic, bST-free milk?  No, unfortunately not.

    Look at the Belgian Blue, a type of cattle.  The animals have been selectively bred for so long, that they cannot breed or give birth naturally at all, at risk to all animals involved.  All Belgian Blue cows are AI, all Belgian Blue calves are birthed via C-sections.

    Look at pasteurization for instance.  In the early 1900′s, when factory farming was just becoming the norm, the sickness of the cows giving milk would spread disease and illness among the people drinking that milk.  Then, AH HAH, pasteurization.  Suddenly, it’s okay for us to have pus in our milk, but only to certain *acceptable* levels.

    The industrial revolution changed us.  It throttled us into the future, and 100 years later, the average person is too stupid to comprehend the repercussions of GMO and selectively bred food.  Most people in the U.S. today couldn’t do half the things their predecessors 100 years ago could do.  Knitting, sewing, crocheting, building a house from scratch (i.e. felling the wood, clearing the land, etc.), milking a cow, tending a garden, canning, baking.  Many of these talents were nearly lost, and I am so thankful now to see a resurgence of people who want to learn and experience these nearly lost skill sets.

    We have, as Americans, have become so disconnected with our food supply.  People go to the grocery store, pay no mind to the time and energy it takes to bring that meat/dairy/vegetables/fruit to the store.  They don’t think, “hmm, I wonder how many cows had mastitis on the farm that my gallon of milk came from, and if they were removed from the milking operations until they were well,” or “How many different animals supplied this one 5-lbs. package of ground beef?”

    If I had the opportunity, I would milk my own cow, make my own cheese, slaughter my own rabbits, chickens and goats.  I would have a huge 1+ acre garden, and can can can all summer long.  I would work the land with my own two hands.  I would teach my children the value of healthy animals and healthier soil.

    But alas, I live in a not very urban-agricultural friendly city.  I have the smallest house and lot on my block.  Only recently has the city council decided to change it’s stance on chickens, which still doesn’t allow me to have a single Nigerian dwarf goat.  I have my garden, with all its tomatoes and potatoes and strawberries and cherries and Jerusalem artichoke, but I would never be able to self sustain with what little I have.

    Maybe WE are the zombies, puttering along our little lives, and the only thing we worry about is the next time we can update our Facebook statuses.

    Sorry for my long rant.

    Love your blog.

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Rant much appreciate. Love it and learned some. Thanks!

  • http://marysgardeningendeavors.blogspot.com Mary C.

    Good post :) Have you read the article about Heirloom breeding of plants and animal in world agriculture in July’s National Geographic yet? Good read.

    Yeah GMO’s don’t and won’t feed nearly everyone. Much goes to the meat industry, going to fuel alternative, plant based plastics, and much is spoiled from being promoted and grown in areas where the GMO crops can’t thrive.

    To feed the world, locally adapted natural breeds of food crops need to be promoted. Second best, natural food crops from other areas that are suitable for your local area (and non-invasive). It would be best if everyone could grow a portion of their own food at home, at work or in a community garden – if not most or all of it.

  • http://marysgardeningendeavors.blogspot.com Mary C.

    Good post :) Have you read the article about Heirloom breeding of plants and animal in world agriculture in July’s National Geographic yet? Good read.

    Yeah GMO’s don’t and won’t feed nearly everyone. Much goes to the meat industry, going to fuel alternative, plant based plastics, and much is spoiled from being promoted and grown in areas where the GMO crops can’t thrive.

    To feed the world, locally adapted natural breeds of food crops need to be promoted. Second best, natural food crops from other areas that are suitable for your local area (and non-invasive). It would be best if everyone could grow a portion of their own food at home, at work or in a community garden – if not most or all of it.

  • http://marysgardeningendeavors.blogspot.com Mary C.

    Good post :) Have you read the article about Heirloom breeding of plants and animal in world agriculture in July’s National Geographic yet? Good read.

    Yeah GMO’s don’t and won’t feed nearly everyone. Much goes to the meat industry, going to fuel alternative, plant based plastics, and much is spoiled from being promoted and grown in areas where the GMO crops can’t thrive.

    To feed the world, locally adapted natural breeds of food crops need to be promoted. Second best, natural food crops from other areas that are suitable for your local area (and non-invasive). It would be best if everyone could grow a portion of their own food at home, at work or in a community garden – if not most or all of it.

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    True dat. The global thing just ain’t workin in it’s current state.

  • http://thefrugalgrower.wordpress.com/ Thefrugalgrower

    Corn fed cows produce more methane, and are subject to e coli, which is why they are fed antibiotics, and why milk is pasteurized. (Well, that’s more for listeria, which is more commonly found on large commercialized dairy farms than small organic pasture raised farms, but I’m digressing.) Here in Canada it is actually illegal to sell non pasteurized milk at all. There’s the government looking out for us, just like free range eggs. It is illegal here to sell chicken eggs if your chickens’ feet touch the ground, without some kind of sterilization process and certification from the health board, which is too expensive for pretty much all of these free range farms. ”The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.” – Cornelius Tacitus (55-117 A.D.)

    If you really object to Monsanto, and GMO’s don’t buy factory raised meat, dairy and eggs. This is where most of the crops are going, feeding livestock. So make them feel it. Eat seafood, go vegetarian, or buy from local sources you trust. This is what I do. It means cutting back on the amount of meat I eat, but it’s probably easier for me since I have a small family, and my husband is vegan. 

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    True. True. Vote with your dollar!

  • http://certifiablesouthernorganics.com 1114organic

    One of my best friend’s brother USED to be a salmon farmer.  The processes finally grossed him out so he had to quit.  He also won’t eat any type of  farm raised fish anymore.  This idea of altering nature is not a path we should be taking.

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    It’s definitely a scary path for many reasons.

  • Cristina

    It’s sad but you are all too right!  
    Thankfully I drink soy and almond milk, however I can’t seem to afford going to a local organic farm who has raised their animals correctly and buy a butchered animal.  It’s double to triple what I pay at the store now…  
    I actually have bought the stuff and plan on learning how to can this summer.  Any good sites/books that can be recommended is greatly appreciated!
    I’ve just found your site Mike but I’m liking it!!

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Glad we have connected.

  • Farmerfanny

    God made the plants and animals right the first time I don’t understand why they think they can mess with His handiwork!

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    True dat.

  • Liz

     I like local and organic food better than GMO’s and “factory farm” (worst term in the history of farming) food, but I can afford that food. GMO’s were created because there was a problem — no one could afford food, and no one could afford protein until animals were fed by GMO’s. This was a solution to world hunger. It turned out the rest of world did not have any sort of transportation to deliver this plethora of food, so we developed renewable uses for this food (ethanol v. non-renewable oil). Any suggestions on how to feed the poor of the world?

  • Liz

    Everyone should grown their own supply of fuel too, based on where they live. In the Midwest, it makes sense to grow our own fuel (ethanol) versus having oil shipped thousands of miles. Perhaps in other areas of the world it makes sense to use oil if it is local and renewable.

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    That too is a myth. The problem that no one could afford food or that there was a food shortage was created by the industry in order to justify GMOs. There are also other forms of protein besides animals. 

    I believe that conventional farming was supposed to be feeding the world starting in the 1950-60s and since that time, the percentage of hungry people has gone up. 

    When done right organic farming can feed the world

    http://www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com/why-modern-organic-farming-is-the-only-thing-that-can-feed-the-world-reason-1-of-5/

  • Mish

    sure they don’t feed the world now, doesn’t mean that they won’t or can’t. I don’t have anything personally against a lot of modified foods, rather their current uses. Why prevent this useful tool?

  • Rhiane

    your sources are invalid click on your link for USDA, so your entire argument is invalid because you are strictly biased followed by unreliable source.